BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Lawmakers have more money to close budget shortfalls after the state income estimating panel added nearly $179 million to two years of financial forecasts.

The Revenue Estimating Conference made the changes Thursday, boosting the state general fund forecast for this year by more than $99 million and next year by more than $79 million.

Louisiana  has gaps in the budget that ends June 30, estimated to total at least $56 million.

But the remaining money could be used to help close next year's budget shortfall. The House made tax changes to pay for about 70 percent of the gaps identified by House leaders, still leaving a significant hole in health care programs.

Of the new money, $74 million comes from a one-time excess balance in an insurance reserve fund.


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